What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Location: WEst Coast National Park, Langebaan , S. Africa
November 20, 2010 11:28 am
We saw a few of these caterpillars in the West Coast National Park about 100kms north of Cape Town , S.Africa. It looks like a mopane worm, and is the right size for a mopane worm but from what I can gather they are not found this far south and I dont think there are any mopane trees in the Park.
Any ideas?
Signature: Max Hopfl

Pine Emperor Caterpillar

Dear Max,
We identified your caterpillar as the Pine Emperor Moth,
Nudaurelia cytherea, by researching on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site.  We found information on a virus that is being used to combat infestations of the Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar on the Science in Africa website.  We also found information that the caterpillar is edible and appeared on a stamp from Uganda.

Insects of Uganda Stamps

Hi Daniel:
Phew, that was quick. Many thanks for the identification. I knew it couldnt be the mopane worm , gonimbrasia belina,( which is also edible and indeed a very important food source for the northern people of southern Africa: Wiki says:  It is estimated that South Africa alone trades 1.6 million kilogrammes of mopane worm annually, 8 and that Botswana’s involvement in this industry nets it roughly $8 million annually) as the mopane bush doesnt come this far south. Ironically, there are no pine trees in the West Coast National Park either, but they seem to have found a tasty alternative.
Beautiful creature, dont you think.
Regards and thanks again, Max

We are very lucky that Bill Oehlke has given us access to the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, though we cannot link to it since it is a member’s only website.  It is a lovely caterpillar.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Africa

5 Responses to Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

  1. William McHale says:

    Very curious about this bug my dad found the exact same moth/butterfly in france is this normal ? Is this bug dangerous ?

    • bugman says:

      The Pine Emperor Moth is not found in France, though it is possible there was an escape from a breeder.

  2. Fern says:

    Hello. I live in South Africa. This is the first time I have ever come across this species of moth : Pine Emperor Moth.
    It seemed to be struggling to fly. I attempted to rescue it (from being trodden on / eaten by cats).
    Do you have any advise on how to care for it?


    • Dave Yates says:

      See that it’s warm has a bit of water/moisture and keep it away from the cat, a bit of cheese is also a good idea, some of them actually like candy floss.

  3. Garth Maurer says:

    Found one of these caterpillars in my garden this morning under the peper tree. Took photos and then carefully relocated it to the reserve across the road.
    Nearest pine tree is about 800m away. Don’t know how it got to my garden.
    Lovely colours. Would love to see what it becomes.
    I’m located in Kleinmond, in the Overberg region

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *